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The Current Problems Facing Trade Unions In Kenya And The Way Forward To These Problems

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Category: Miscellaneous

Autor: anton 15 July 2011

Words: 740 | Pages: 3

Trade unions are associations of employees (there are also associations of employers - F.K.E) and their main objective is to represent the employees' interests to the employers. The right to form and join a trade union is a fundamental human right. A well functioning and respected trade union movement is often a good indicator of democracy and standards of human rights.

Besides playing a role in the fight for better working conditions, trade unions have had (and continue to have) a key role in the building of social movements and the developing of social changes.

The role of trade unions has been very varied. In some countries, where fascist and communist regimes were in place, trade unions were overtaken or created by state authorities and the political elite and turned into a tool for their oppressive regimes. As a result of this historical reality, many people are skeptical of the role that trade unions can play, and only lately have the workers from these countries started to recognize the positive role of trade unions in the fight for protecting their rights. Other differences exist across Europe, especially regarding the role and organization of trade unions. In most countries, trade unions are organized in confederations.

In Kenya however, we have COTU as the umbrella governing trade unions.

Trade unions were established to protect the working life of workers. Currently they are facing varies challenges and hence weakening of the unions.

Some of the problems being faced by trade unions in Kenya are challenged by globalization, revolution in production technologies and new management styles. Splintering, changing mentality, mismanagement of funds, lack of innovation and visionary leadership are a big handicap. Most unions are grappling with the democratization of social and political arena besides government interference.

There is need for redefining the role of unions beyond the workplace needs, reaching out to segments currently excluded, training union leadership and members, critically reviewing internal governance and developing alliance with other social groups. Most grievances come from both internal and external forces. The internal ones include conditions at work, incompetent management, and oppressive management, ignorance of management, bad rules, poor communication systems, personality problems and lack of resources. External forces include the political environment, economic setting and social setting.

For the purposes of this assignment I would like to dwell on the major handicap facing the trade unions in Kenya that being in the area of Employment.

The trade unions are faced with a number of problems in the area of employment which include:

В· Lack of coherent national policies on employment. The same is caused by lack of genuine political will and commitment on the part of the government(s) of the respective countries.

В· Obsolete Labour laws and inadequate regulations in place, which do not conform to international Labour standards and therefore cannot, meet the present employment challenges.

В· Lack of credible legal systems, weak enforcement of laws and ineffective Labour inspections.

В· Unemployment rate is currently rising rapidly, mainly due to the joint effects of slow job creation rate and a rapid Labour force growth rate. Majority of the youth who graduate in thousands at all levels of education from primary to university are unable to find employment. In all the four countries less than ten percent find jobs in the formal and public sector.

В· Growth of the informal sector poses a big challenge to the countries of the sub region. On the other hand, the informal sector is the provider of jobs and livelihoods for many people. Its contribution to the GDP is also significant.

В· Mass retrenchment both in the public and private sector as a result of the on going reforms and privatization of the public owned companies and parastatals. Retrenched workers are not paid in time and the take home package is little and big injustice in all respects.

В· Casualization of the labour force, outsourcing and practice of short term contracts plus the earlier stated problems have resulted in great loss of trade union members and revenue to sustain trade union activities.

В· Collective bargaining is weakened and discouraged by new employers. They prefer and entertain individual contracts. This is one of the indicators of the anti-union attitude of the new employers, which trade unions have to cope with.

В· Low coverage in the existing social security schemes. About 10% or less of workers in the informal sector are covered by these schemes. In some instances, the workers working in the informal economy are not covered at all while those who are already covered enjoy few or limited benefits.

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